Hip-hop artist Will.i.am has spoken to Sky News about Donald Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement and the “technological tomorrow”, saying the “eject button” needs to be pressed on any leader who is not well-prepared for the future.
The Black Eyed Peas star has released The Love, a reworked version of the group’s 2003 hit Where Is The Love, with an emotive video featuring part of a speech by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as well as footage of activists and protests.
In a wide-ranging interview with presenter Kay Burley as the US heads to the polls, the musician predicted a win for Biden and said that four more years of Donald Trump – a leader who has taken the country “backwards” – would “hurt” America.
Speaking about The Love, which features Jennifer Hudson this time round, Will.i.am said he was moved to re-release the song when he started thinking about “all the things that are at stake”.
He added: “[It] doesn’t make sense that we have a leader that stirs up hate, that amplifies division and tries his hardest to confuse us all with distractions.
“It doesn’t make sense that we have a leader that doesn’t listen to science. Doesn’t make sense that we have a leader that handled COVID the way we’ve handled… our people have lost so many lives and so many jobs; so many people facing eviction because they can’t pay their bills.”
With images of the Ku Klux Klan, George Floyd and people being attacked by police featured in the video, Will.i.am said his intention is to remind people of “the horrendous things that have happened recently and how it echoes the stuff that’s happened in the past”.
Mr Trump has done a “really good job to distract and confuse”, he said.
“With so many distractions, people forget so soon. And we’ve been so immune and numb to just the inhumane things that have gone on, that we wanted just to remind people.”
The star said that, despite Mr Trump’s fanbase, he is confident there are “more people that want to see America move forward in a more united way than there are promoting violence” and “the way that Trump leads with no decency”.
He added: “I have too much faith in America to believe that.”
As well as his music career, Will.i.am also has the i.am Angel Foundation, set up in 2009 to help to provide educational opportunities in deprived areas, with one area of focus on science, technology and mathematics subjects.
Should Mr Trump win and remain in power until 2024, America will lose its “position in the world to lead”, the star said, adding he believes the president is not prepared for advances in technology.
“New technologies would have emerged, rendering the jobs that we have now obsolete, and Trump would have done nothing to prepare people for that,” he said. “I think that’d really set America back and it will hurt us.
“It’s not immigrants, it’s not Mexicans, it’s not people that are going to take these jobs away, it’s the technology that we’re training right now. If you have an electric car, what, self-driving mode? You’re training that car to be a better driver, by 2024. So if you’re a truck driver, an Uber driver, you probably are not going to have that job in 2024. Definitely not in 2030.
“If you’re a cheque casher, if you’re working at a retail store or a supermarket or pharmacy, you’re probably not going to have that job, because that little fast checkout counter is training the machine to be smarter and smarter, to understand our needs.
“If we’re not preparing people right now, reskilling and upskilling, if that’s not the conversation right now, whoever is guiding us towards that technological autonomous tomorrow, they need to go. If you have a distraction agent, they need to go. If you have a chaos agent, they need to go.
“Look at what COVID has showed us. In 2018, what the hell was Zoom? We didn’t know what Zoom was. In 2019, what was Zoom? We didn’t know what Zoom was. We know what Zoom is now! If you think of all the companies that have boomed since COVID, they’re all tech companies.
“Our kids aren’t learning the way they should, because our leadership is not leading properly to make sure that we are protected and prepared for tomorrow. So for those that are, you know, part of the distraction, they need to go. Eject button. Hit it. Out.”
Speaking about Black Lives Matter, he said anyone arguing against the movement is “blind to the realities that black lives have to go through – not just in America, but all over the world”.
He said: “Why do we just matter? Why can’t we have importance? Why can’t we lead? Why can’t we… why does it just matter?
“So if you think of someone that has the audacity to argue that black lives don’t matter when we’ve been misrepresented, not invested in, you know, we fill up the prisons, the people that patrol our communities are a lot of times harming the communities…
“We’re not being educated as far as what’s good for health; so many of us are obese with diabetes based on the food that’s adjacent to the communities that we live in. Our kids are not being invested in, loans for black families are lower than loans for white families. The amount of black people that we have in leadership just in the tech sector is like, invisible.”
The star made the point that Black Lives Matter is not a violent movement.
“Imagine if Black Lives Matter was black supremacy? Imagine that? But that’s not what it’s saying, it’s saying we matter to be… you know, given an opportunity to be invested in.
“We matter to protect our youth and our path and our contribution to society. We matter. The fight that we’ve had in the past matters, our fight for equality, and we should still matter today…
“Those that see everyone coming together supporting it – white, black, Latino – everywhere around the world, they support that movement that strikes fear to those that claim they’re supreme.
“Because the world isn’t coming together for white supremacists. That idea, that elite prospective, is… you can’t have that in the world. Why should anybody be supreme over someone else?”
As a coach on The Voice, Will.i.am will be watching the election from the UK this time round.
After the result, people need to think of ways to “contribute to a better tomorrow”, he says.
“Remember in 2008 when we had a mortgage crisis and banks were bankrupt and [Barack] Obama and Biden were handed a crippled America? Biden was part of that clean-up crew. And they stabilised. He helped stabilise America, to hand over a stable America to Trump for Trump to just downhill spiral.
“So when Biden is elected… you’ve got to think about what you’re going to do to contribute. I know what I’m going to do to contribute.”
The star pledged to start robotics programmes in communities “that reflect the community that I come from in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights,” in 10 states.
“I want to get kids prepared for this technological tomorrow. So I’m starting 10 robotics programmes in underserved communities to prepare the youth. That’s the least that I can do and I’m going to do that.”